PA-13: Arkoosh Buys Up Critical Ad Space

Screnshot from Arkoosh's web ad

Screnshot from Arkoosh’s web ad

Physician, activist and first-time candidate Valerie Arkoosh just bought up serious ad space for the days before the primary.

Arkoosh is leading the Democratic pack for PA-13 in cash on hand, and clearly intends to use this advantage to tackle her very small name recognition in the district. Her campaign spent $400,000 to run ads during high-traffic time slots between May 12 and May 19.

“After another strong and consistent fundraising quarter, we placed the most significant ad buy in the race so far,” Arkoosh’s Communications Director Bryan Lesswing told PoliticsPA.

This quarter, she bringing in $220,474. She spent reasonably ($176,875), maintaining her lead in cash on hand at $687,530.

She’s the only new candidate in the race; she faces State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) and former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies in the primary.

Her web ad, “Sarah,” is running now on Facebook and YouTube, but this won’t be the ad used on television next month.


PA-6: Costello Outshines Trivedi in Q1



After Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-Chester) decided to step down from his position as the Representative of Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, the 2014 race for that seat became highly contested, with promise of national attention and whispers of big name candidates.

Democrats have seen the district as an opportunity to pick up a seat in the House, while Republicans have mobilized in an effort to retain it. And now the 1st quarter financial numbers are in, and they show a less exciting, less close race than we all had hoped.

Manan Trivedi

This is Trivedi’s third time campaigning as a Democrat in PA-6, having lost to Gerlach in the general by large margins in both 2010 and 2012. But this time around he does not have to worry about the popular Gerlach and he even won the support of his only primary challenger, Mike Parish, last month following Parrish’s withdrawal.

Trivedi raised $132,416.50, but has yet to spend much — only $19,387.89. He sports $111,831.52 cash on hand and is not held down by any debts.

A great deal of his funding in this quarter also came from personal and familial contributions. One would have expected a stronger base of support for a candidate who had previously run in the district, especially since he believed he would have a primary challenger for most of the period.

However, Trivedi’s results pale in comparison to his Republican adversary.

Ryan Costello

As PoliticsPA wrote earlier this week, Republican Ryan Costello has done a fantastic job fundraising in this year’s 1st quarter.

He raised $344,450.00, and like Trivedi has not spent much on his campaign — only $39,141.34. That will most certainly change as the general approaches, and Costello has $305,308.66 of cash on hand to work with.

“These fundraising numbers are a reflection of local residents desire to get our country back on the right track by finding bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing the nation, implementing policies that will stimulate the economy and grow jobs, and restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington,” Costello said.  “Voters are tired of the partisan bickering and want to know that their voices are really being heard by their representatives in Congress.”

Costello, the Chairman of the Chester County Board of Commissioners, has received a ton of financial support, which is most likely due to the strong desire of the Republican Party to retain the PA-6 seat. Many members of the Pennsylvania Republican Congressional delegation wrote checks in support of their hopeful colleague. In addition, many of Costello’s donors may have been weary of Trivedi’s fundraising experience, considering this is his third attempt at the seat.

Whatever the reason, Costello out collected Trivedi nearly 3 to 1 and is suddenly positioned to run a very strong campaign.

Both candidates are running unopposed in their respective primaries.

Politically Uncorrected: A Good Start

PA-Governor-Mansion2Still more than a month away, the hotly contested Democratic primary is finally moving into high gear. Over the next several weeks, Pennsylvania voters will be treated (if that’s the word) to a veritable barrage of political ads, press releases, debates and other assorted arcana of political campaigns heading for the wire.

So far, it’s been a set piece campaign. Although it has turned a bit negative, the four surviving candidates have mostly agreed on the big issues. They all advocate ambitious agendas in education and economic development as well as protection of the environment and job creation. As challengers, they’ve mostly avoided dealing with the precarious fiscal situation faced by the state. None favor, for example, increases to the currently structured sales tax or the income tax or in fact any broad based revenue measures, except for a severance tax on the natural gas industry.

Abundantly clear is that whichever Democrat wins the nomination he or she is going to wage a vigorous and energetic campaign in the fall. The Democrats intend to win in 2014, and they intend to govern aggressively, if they do win.

Let’s say this happens. Indeed it is no secret that it could happen. Gov. Tom Corbett, long considered the nation’s most endangered incumbent governor, could still pull it out. Few are betting that he will.

For the moment, then, let’s hypothetically assume that one of the hard-charging Democrats wins in November. Then what happens?

Maybe nothing! Make that a lot of nothing.

We don’t have to look any further then down the road to an imploding Washington D.C. to understand why “nothing” may be the bitter postscript to the Pennsylvania 2014 gubernatorial race. In Washington, an isolated, increasingly frustrated Democrat Barack Obama is struggling desperately to pursue an agenda blocked almost completely by the opposition party’s veto in the Congress. By any measure, Washington is trapped in a stunning gridlock.

Is this Pennsylvania’s near future? Sadly, it could be.

Currently, state Republicans control both houses of the state legislature. While some believe Democrats might capture the state Senate in November, Democratic control remains a long shot. More likely, Republicans will continue their Senate dominance, perhaps becoming even more conservative than now. A conservative oriented Republican-controlled Senate represents a major roadblock to the agenda of any would be Democratic governor.

This bad news might actually turn out to be the good news for any new Democratic governor. Much worse is the situation in the state House. There, already about 30 tea party types make the state House a junior version of the federal House. Moreover, no knowledgeable analyst expects the state house to change hands. The current 111 to 92 edge Republicans presently hold will remain largely intact, partially the result of two decades of favorable gerrymandering and the collaboration of both parties in pursuit of legislative protection.

But numbers alone tell only half the story. As in Washington, far more problematic is the rampant polarization and hyper partisanship that exists. For example, not a single Democratic House vote was obtained on Corbett’s 2013-14 budget, nor did a single Democratic lawmaker vote for the liquor privatization bill passed in the House. The Pennsylvania General Assembly is an ideological battlefield, and any new Democratic governor’s ambitious agenda would be an early casuality.

So, if a Democrat is elected in 2014 a not so quiet policy paralysis is likely to descend over Harrisburg, much as has already happened in Washington.

Are we then making a not so subtle argument that, flawed as he is, re-electing Tom Corbett may be preferable to creating a mini Washington D.C. on the Susquehanna. Is the devil we know better than the devil we don’t? Is Corbett the best of the worst and should we keep him?

No, we don’t make that argument one way or the other. That is clearly for the voters to decide. What we do believe, however, is the vital importance of understanding what decades of paralyzing polarization perpetuated by both parties have done to our politics – and threatens to do to our government.

Pennsylvania’s 2014 gubernatorial election will not end these battles. They will go on. They might even get worse.

But this neither makes the election irrelevant or unimportant. Things will not change in Pennsylvania or nationally until the electorate decides to change them. The 2014 gubernatorial could be the catalyst that sparks that change – the moment where voters collectively say “enough!”

2014 could be Pennsylvania’s “tipping point.”

As Winston Churchill said of another fight long ago, we might come to remember 2014 as “… not the end… not even the beginning of the end. But …perhaps the end of the beginning.”

That’s a good start.

PA-10: Incumbent Marino Leads in Funds for Q1

Tom-MarinoIn Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, incumbent Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) looks well-positioned at the moment to win re-election with relative ease.

PA-10 strongly leans Republican, it is rated a R+12 by the highly-regarded Cook Political Report, and Marino has done a fine job fundraising according to this year’s 1st quarter financial reports.

Tom Marino

Marino raised $128,510.00 and has a sizeable $381,015.07 on hand; he has only spent $28,134.18. This is a good quarter for Marino and a strong showing for an incumbent.

The most sizeable donation that Marino received was from Lockheed Martin, an aerospace and defense technology company, which gifted $3,000 to his campaign.

Scott Brion

Marino’s Democratic challenger, businessman Scott Brion, did not measure up to Marino’s high fundraising totals. According to his financial report, Brion only raised $18,985.00 and has only $13,388.16 left in cash on hand. The Democratic challenger hasn’t spent much either, only $5,571.23, and he also currently has $1,445.71in debt.

Brion certainly has an uphill battle ahead of him, considering the sizeable gap in campaign funds between himself and Marino, and the largely Republican-voting population in PA-10.

Brion is the only candidate running in the Democratic primary in May.

Nick Troiano

A wild card in this race is Independent Nick Troiano, whose financial reports are unavailable. Troiano jumped into the race just this month and plans to make a run at Marino’s seat.

He made the following statement about Marino’s finances:

“In his never-ending quest to reelection, Congressman Tom Marino continues to take tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from special interest political action committees.Nearly sixty cents of every dollar the Congressman has raised in the last three months has come from a political action committee (PAC), rather than an individual.

“The Congressman’s fundraising raises serious and troubling questions about whom he is truly representing in Washington. Congressman Marino is supposed to be representing his constituents from counties including Lycoming, Pike, Bradford, Susquehanna and Mifflin –– not his campaign contributors from companies including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Gruman, Raytheon, Cigna, Merck and Praxair.

“Big money has too much influence in our politics, as corporations, unions, lobbyists and PACs drown out the voice of ordinary voters and corrupt our policy-making process. Recent Supreme Court cases, from Citizens United to McCutcheon, have only exacerbated this problem. That is why I support comprehensive campaign finance reform that would limit big money in politics and empower small donors, and that is why my campaign will not accept a single dollar from any special interest.

“If Congressman Marino wants to truly represent the people, then he should return the quarter million dollars he has raised so far this election cycle from special interests and join me in only accepting his campaign funds from the people.”

PA-13: Leach Leads Q1 With Large Margin

Daylin-Leach-portrait-2013-loresState Senator Daylin Leach came out in front of the widest congressional primary pack in the state.

Leach raised $335,660; physician Valerie Arkoosh came in second with $220,474; former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies in third with $211,178 raised; and State Rep. Brendan Boyle in a distant fourth with just $114,246.

Two Republicans are also battling to represent one of the most D-leaning districts in the state, Dee Adcock and Bev Bowser. Adcock raised $63,600 after a $50,000 loan from himself. Bowser raised $15,780.

There were drastic changes in the leaderboard of the Democratic contenders in terms of fundraising, but one thing remains the same – Margolies’ negative burn rate.


Her spending was more under control than the fourth quarter, but she spent $225,255 after raising $211,178 (106% burn rate). Her expenses were about the same as last year, high end consultants: Linda August $14,000, Erickson & Company Inc. $9,000, Info Voter Technologies Inc. $25,000, Joe Trippi & Associates Inc. $10,880, $24,000 Katz Watson Group Inc., $40,000 for Ken Smuckler.

The major fundraiser with Bill Clinton was held during the 2nd Quarter, but will be drastically needed to boost her cash on hand number, which sits at a dangerously low $159,789, not all of which can even be used in the primary after double max-out contributions.

This quarter did see some other high-profile contributors, including Bill Richardson $1,000, Governor Ed Rendell $500, Ezekiel Emanuel $500.


Leach is the big winner in this quarter. He outraised his competitors by a fundraising-mile and held onto a lot of it to bring his cash on hand number much closer to Arkoosh’s.

He spent $162,655, leaving him with $654,202, certainly enough to purchase serious amounts of air time closer to the primary.

His more than $300,000 in contributions came from maximum checks from 13 of his 22 Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and $16,000 from himself.

This is a major improvement over Q4 when Leach placed 3rd in the cash raised totals with $170K, and $481,197 on hand after spending $65,994 in the last quarter of the year.


The first-time candidate impressed again this quarter, bringing in $220,474.

She spent reasonably ($176,875), maintaining her lead in cash on hand at $687,530. About 80% of that is money that can be used for the primary, so she and Leach are neck and neck moving into the last month of the campaign.


One of the biggest surprises in the Q1 reports for this race was Boyle’s total raised. He brought in just $114,246, which would be an impressive amount were he not competing in a four-way primary for a safely Democratic seat.

This is even a decrease from Q4, where he raised $140,000. The last quarter of the year is typically slow, given that several major holidays fall in the period, making fundraisers more difficult to schedule.

He didn’t spend much, $97,111, but his cash on hand, $398,237, will not buy him the sort of exposure that Arkoosh and Leach will be able to afford.


This Republican has been a good sport in the race, attending debates where the audience was clearly biased against him but his fundraising does not indicate a candidacy that is able to overthrow such a heavily Democratic seat.

He loaned himself $50,000, leading to a total raised of $63,600. He spent $16,441 and finished the period with $47,188 on hand.


Adcock’s opponent for the uphill battle to the general election posted smaller numbers and has run an even lower-profile campaign.

She raised $15,780, spent $12,347.39 and has just $2,432.61 on hand moving into the second quarter. If you subtract Adcock’s loan, though, she did slightly outraise him in total contributions.

PA-7: Meehan Easily Leads Challenger in Q1

Rep. Meehan

Rep. Meehan

To say that incumbent Congressman Pat Meehan (R-Delaware) has a monetary advantage over his Democratic challenger Mary Ellen Balchunis (D-Delaware) would be an understatement.

According to the latest campaign finance reports covering the 1st quarter of 2014, Meehan raised approximately $149,014 while Balchunis was only able to accrue $10,119 — a difference of nearly 14 to 1. And while Meehan has spent $130,772 on his re-election campaign, Balchunis spent a measly $506.

As the incumbent in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, Meehan also sports much more cash on hand. The congressman has $1,609,143 worth of spending money while his challenger only has $9,612 to her name.

Neither candidate has a challenger for the primary in May, so Balchunis has plenty of time to up her fundraising game. Money doesn’t necessarily lead to campaign success, but the odds of Balchunis defeating Meehan at her current pace of fundraising looks extremely unlikely.

Balchunis’s largest campaign contribution came from former PA-7 Democratic candidate George Badey. Badey ran in 2012 but lost to Meehan in the general.

PA-7 only leans slightly Republican with a Cook Political Report partisan voting index of just R+2, which is why the lack of fundraising efforts by Balchunis seems rather odd. That being said, Meehan is a popular incumbent who easily won the seat in 2012.

PA-16: Pitts Out-Raises Challengers, Keeps Major COH Lead

Rep. Pitts

Rep. Pitts

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Chester), of PA’s 16th district, has proven he’s serious about keeping his seat with his latest campaign finance report numbers.

The two Democrats running in the primary, Raj Kittappa and Tom Houghton, both leave a little more to be desired.

Pitts raised the most by far in the first three months of 2014, coming in with $172,111.12. He spent $63,778.41 and has $420,206.30 cash on hand.

Kittappa only managed to bring in $7,253. In an eyebrow-raising move, he didn’t spend any money during the first quarter. His amount raised also acts as his amount of cash on hand. Houghton’s numbers were better, with $29,587 raised, $12,616 spent and $16,970 cash on hand.


Pitts proved his power as an incumbent in the receipt of contributions. He picked up a good deal of cash from medical groups. The American Health Care Association gave $5,000, the American Academy of Neurology’s BrainPAC donated $2,500, the American Osteopathic Information Association gave $3,500, and the American College of Cardiology PAC donated $5,000, among several others.

His expenses weren’t too out of the ordinary. Fundraising, tickets and catering make frequent appearances on the list. Pitts also donated to the Republican Committee of Chester, a generous $5,000. The Congressman is listed as having no debts after running for this seat every two years since 1996.


Kittappa’s report fails to mirror the activities of a candidate running a campaign against a primary challenger who hopes to face a powerful incumbent. Of the contributions totaling just over $7K, Kittappa’s family members make up $5,200 of donations.

It’s puzzling as to why the Democratic candidate hasn’t spent any money, but it remains to be seen how that will affect him in the upcoming May primary against Houghton.

The stem cell researcher originally announced his intent to run in the Democratic primary for PA-16 back in March.


Similar to his Democratic opponent, Houghton’s contributions all came almost entirely from individuals. Many of his contributions are in the form of in-kind donations toward fundraising events.

Just over $8K of Houghton’s money spent went toward consulting, namely Joseph Bachman and Don Gabor. Other expenses listed on his report included fundraising, advertising and $226.41 in postage stamps.

Houghton announced his candidacy back in January with the support of

The Cook PVI rates the 16th district R+4, meaning the rightward leaning isn’t necessarily the strongest, but it will be difficult to topple a Republican incumbent. Pitts has been in office since 1997. He won the 2012 election by a considerable amount, getting 54.8% of the votes in comparison to Democratic opponent Aryanna Strader’s 39%. Two Independent candidates ran in the election as well, John Murphy (4.3%) and James Bednarski (1.8%).

PA-12: McClelland Picks Up Steam, Rothfus Still Leads



Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Allegheny) brought his fourth quarter fundraising lead over into the first three months of 2014, placing him comfortably ahead of his Democratic opponents. Between the two Dems, businesswoman Erin McClelland has the lead while Col. John Hugya remains in a distant last place.

Rothfus raised $241,253 and spent $93,793. Adding insult to injury for his opponents, the Republican has $1,019,907 cash on hand. McClelland doesn’t quite manage to come close to Rothfus. She has $58,117 raised, $47,145.54 spent and $31,619.29 cash on hand. Hugya brings up the rear with $19,730 raised, $24,285 spent and $20,441.45 cash on hand.


Rothfus’ enthusiastically capitalized donor list from his report detailed his hold over the 12th district as an incumbent, clear through the long list of individual donors and organizations. The Citizens for Prosperity in American PAC gave $5,000, as did the FirstEnergy Corp. PAC. The Highmark Health PAC gave Rothfus $1,500, while the Jim Gerlach For Congress Committee donated $2,000 to Rothfus’ campaign. He also had plenty of individual donors to help keep him afloat, with totals ranging from $15 to $2,500 contributed.

Over half of Rothfus’ expenses went to some type of consulting: $57,146.01 to be exact. There were also the usual event tickets, postage fees and political contributions. Rothfus even gave himself $5,729.22 for “mileage, meeting expenses, travel.” He’s listed as owing zero debts to the committee.

In comparison to his fourth quarter numbers, Rothfus has remained quite steady. No doubt that this is what has helped him keep his lead in the 12th district.


McClelland’s report posted better numbers than her fourth quarter filing. While she only raised around $29K then, the first three months of 2014 brought in just about twice that.

She too had her share of individual donors, ranging from $100 to $2,600. The Engineers Political Education Committee and Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association contributed $5,000 each. United Food and Commercial Workers International decided to throw in $500.

The Dem also spent the better part of her total expenses on consulting. She also listed social media marketing, postage and office rental. A return of contribution is also listed, $500, to Tom Ayoob Jr. Inc., the reason placed on the donor list being “impermissible funds.” McClelland is listed as having $5,400 in debt.


The Colonel’s first quarter report was a drop off from his previous. Nearly all of his donors were individuals, with the only organization of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 354 PAC donating $1,000. Just a handful of individuals maxed out.

This quarter, Hugya spent $4,555.14 more than he raised. The expenses include a variety of things, from campaign supplies to travel to invitations. There were $1,699.04 in campaign office furnishings listed, as well as a $500 refund to Ed Sheehan Jr.

Hugya is listed as having $2,500 in debt.

In comparison to the fourth quarter, while Rothfus has kept his lead, McClelland and Hugya seem to have switched spots. Though it is fair to point out that McClelland outraised Hugya by a great deal more than he outraised her in the fourth quarter. In a Cook PVI-rated R+9 district, with slow starts for the Democrats, Rothfus is likely feeling comfortable.

HD-36: Readshaw Joins Molchany on TV (Watch)

Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) joined his primary opponent Rep. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny) on the airwaves with a biographical ad that launched this morning.

The bright, 30-second spot details some of the highlights from Readshaw’s nearly-twenty year career.

readshaw ad“He’s a dad, husband, grandfather and a leader who has earned our trust: Harry Readshaw,” a narrator reads. “He refuses a taxpayer funded car and led the fight to repeal the midnight pay raise because he’s fed up with the old Harrisburg politics.

“Readshaw fought Governor Corbett’s massive gas tax that funds Philadelphia’s mass transit and Harry led the fight to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.”

According to a press release accompanying the ad, “What the television ad does not highlight, due to time, is Harry’s massive list of endorsements: the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, the overwhelming majority of the Allegheny County Labor Council, the Realtors Association, IBEW 5, the Plumbers 27, and a number of leaders in the 36th district have all expressed support for Rep Readshaw.”

Molchany and Readshaw, both incumbent representatives, were merged into the same district after Molchany’s seat moved to Lehigh County. The new seat contains mostly Readshaw’s old district, a little of Molchany’s and some neutral turf. 72% of voters in the new district are already his, while just 21% live in Molchany’s district.

Molchany launched her first ad last Thursday.

PA-8: Naughton Outraises Strouse, Fitzpatrick Surpasses Both in Q1

Rep. Fitzpatrick

Rep. Fitzpatrick

April 15th may be tax day to everyone else but true politicos know it as the day the first quarterly fundraising reports are released.

In perhaps the state’s most competitive race, Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District, the incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) once again outraised both his opponents combined. The big difference this time, though, is that Democratic challenger Shaughnessy Naughton pulled ahead of her primary opponent Kevin Strouse in this quarter’s fundraising race.

Mike Fitzpatrick

Congressman Fitzpatrick led the pack again, bringing in over $337,000 from January 1st to March 31st of this year.

Among his notable donations were $4,000 from the PAC of Exxon, $2,500 from Dow Chemical’s PAC and $2,000 from his soon to be ex-colleague Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Chester).

While the incumbent has kept ahead of his opponents, his pace is nonetheless slowing down. He raised less than he did during the fourth quarter of 2013 and significantly less than the $462K he was able to pull in for his 2013 Q3 report.

As is also to be expected, Fitzpatrick spent more than either of his competitors, totaling $140,168 in expenditures.

Altogether it wasn’t his most sterling quarter, Fitzpatrick has about $200,000 more than he did to start the year, standing tall with $1,473,633 cash on hand.

Shaughnessy Naughton

Businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton crossed a personal milestone this quarter because for the first time she was able to out-raise her primary opponent Kevin Strouse in individual donations.

As we will clarify later, that does not mean she brought in the most cash. Naughton set a personal best by raising $124,952. Additionally, very little of it came from PACs with the Sheet Metal Workers as her only major contributor, giving $2,500.

Her one drawback is that she also managed to spend more than her primary opponent, doling out $87,459. Over $24,000 of which went to polling conducted by GBA Strategies.

Currently, Naughton has $207,966 cash on hand.

Kevin Strouse

The bad news for the Strouse campaign is that for the first time, the Naughton team outraised them.

The good news is that thanks to a loan from the candidate, they still ultimately brought in more money. Afghan and Iraq vet Kevin Strouse raised $115,193 in donations yet also loaned $50,000 to his campaign bringing his total receipts to $165,193.

Strouse also benefitted from his ties to party leadership, receiving $4,000 from Steny Hoyer after his personal visit and another $3,000 from Nancy Pelosi’s group “PAC to the Future”.

He spent a total of $73,319 during the first quarter of 2014. The campaign used $7,000 and $3,000 respectively for the political consulting services of the Global Strategy Group and MGB Development.

The most important advantage Strouse still has, however, is his lead over Naughton in cash on hand. For all her fundraising success, Naughton increased her COH by only about $30,000 compared to the last quarter, while Strouse increased his COH by about $90,000.

At the moment, the Strouse campaign has $563,574 cash on hand, more than double Naughton’s current amount.

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